Airbus Snags Huge Air France-KLM, Qantas Orders

Edward Russell
December 20th, 2021 at 12:01 AM EST

  • Airbus won, and Boeing and Embraer lost. That’s the takeaway, after Qantas signed an agreement in principal with the European airframer for 20 A321XLRs and 20 A220-300s. The deal, said to be the largest aircraft order in Australian history, also includes options for 94 aircraft over a 10-year delivery window. Including a previous Jetstar A320neo order, Qantas will have 299 orders for Airbus aircraft across all of its subsidiaries.

    The carrier said the A321XLRs will be pressed into service on the Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane triangle as well as on routes in the region. The aircraft will replace Qantas’ fleet of Boeing 737-800s and 717s. In choosing the order, Qantas said it evaluated both the 737 Max and the E190/195-E2.  “When you multiply even small benefits in areas like range or cost across this many aircraft and over the 20 years they’ll be in the fleet, Airbus was the right choice as preferred tenderer,” CEO Alan Joyce said.

    Separately, Qantas’ 2022 outlook got a lot rosier, despite the lockdowns and ensuing slump in demand caused by the Delta variant. The carrier still expects to lose money in the fiscal first half — of between A$250-300 million ($180-216 million) — but it has paid down net debt to A$5.7 billion and has A$4.2 billion in liquidity as it ends the fiscal year. Domestic capacity in the fiscal third quarter next year is expected to be 102 percent of 2019, rising to 117 percent of 2019 in the fiscal fourth quarter.
  • The same Airbus won, Boeing lost story also played out in Europe. Air France-KLM unveiled a commitment for up to 160 A320neo and A321neo aircraft for its KLM and Transavia subsidiaries, flipping both from the Boeing 737. The deal includes 100 firm aircraft with deliveries from the second half of 2023. KLM and Transavia operated 136 737s at the end of September. The deal also includes a letter of intent for up to eight Airbus A350 freighters.
  • Singapore Airlines also jumped for Airbus’ new freighter last week. The carrier signed a letter of intent for seven A350Fs type, with expected delivery in the fourth quarter of 2025. The new freighters will replace Singapore’s fleet of Boeing 747-400Fs.
  • Fresh out of its U.S. bankruptcy restructuring, Avianca has signed a lease for five Airbus A320neos with CDB Aviation. The aircraft are due in 2022 and 2023, and will help the Bogotá-based meet its target of roughly 125 passenger aircraft by the end of 2023. Avianca roughly 100 passenger aircraft when it exited Chapter 11 on December 1, and no deliveries from its 90-aircraft strong — 88 A320neo family jets and two Boeing 787-9s — orderbook until 2024.
  • U.S. startup Breeze is fulfilling its ambitions to fly the Airbus A220 (an aircraft founder David Neeleman said before the carrier’s launch would be critical to the airline’s expansion plans). Breeze has taken delivery of the first of 80 A220-300s with 14 financed through a sale-and-leaseback deal with lessor AerCap. The lessor will deliver the aircraft through next year and 2023.
  • Canadian startup Flair Airlines has leased another 14 Boeing 737-8s, which will expand its fleet to 30 aircraft by the middle of 2023. The carrier did not disclose the lessor, however, its private equity backer 777 Partners ordered 30 more 737 Maxes — for total commitments of 68 aircraft — earlier in December. Flair operates 12 Maxes, and plans to fly 20 by next summer.
  • Meanwhile, Air Lease Corp. is placing two Airbus A350-1000s with Virgin Atlantic. The lessor will deliver the aircraft in 2023-2024.  “ALC’s long history with the airline has been focused on fleet transformation and modernization, and these two new aircraft will add to Virgin Atlantic’s growing A350 operations and commitment to sustainable travel,” ALC Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy said.
  • Staying with Air Lease Corp., the lessor is helping fuel expansion at Air Caraïbes and FrenchBee (both part of Groupe Debreuil Aero). Each carrier is getting one new A350-1000.

Edward Russell & Madhu Unnikrishnan

Edward Russell
December 20th, 2021 at 12:01 AM EST

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